Helplessness is a learned behavior– but it’s one that many of us, thanks to the power of addiction, learn all too well. The Big Book describes helplessness as the last step before we turn ourselves and addiction over to a higher power: “Having reduced us to a state of absolute helplessness, you now declare that none but a Higher Power can remove our obsession.” In treatment, we learn a number of strategies to help us defeat helplessness. These strategies include things like making amends, forgiving ourselves, and learning to dig deep inside of ourselves to uncover latent issues that may have contributed to our substance use in the first place. While we learn these strategies in treatment, there’s nothing like an environment that allows us to practice them firsthand, before diving into the real world on our own.
Sober living provides just the environment.
In sober living communities like the one The Last House provides, we truly believe that practice makes perfect, and that if we’re going to learn how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade, we’ve got to know the recipe first. Just as addiction “taught” us helplessness, we have to continue to teach ourselves to be resourceful, independent, and self-reliant, even after initial treatment. We have to learn that helplessness doesn’t define us, and that even if it’s a trait we acquired long before addiction or treatment, in no way do we have to be stuck with it.
The sober living community serves as a training ground for recovery warriors– or at least that’s how we see it. Men come into sober living communities like The Last House after treatment on a mission to better themselves, and we put them up to the challenge on a daily basis. We teach men to make lemons out of lemonade by providing them with the tools they need to see themselves not as recovered from an illness, but as conquerors.
In our eyes, the three concepts we champion in everything we do– unity, peer support, and life skills– stand at the intersection of helplessness and self-reliance, and learning them allows us to unlock our true potential as men. Consider these components the three ingredients in our “lemonade” recipe!
What does turning lemons into lemonade actually mean?
Addicted or not, post-treatment or in treatment, like throws a heck of a lot at all of us all the time. Bills, job struggles, issues with our kids, temptations, trust issues, missed dinner reservations (okay, maybe the last one isn’t quite so bad). The point is, we all have to deal with the rat race of life on a normal basis, and for those of us in recovery, each new curveball that life throws at us could present a bit of a challenge. Think about it: for many of us, before treatment, our go-to coping mechanism whenever we were faced with an obstacle might have been to use the substance we were addicted to. Now that we’ve conquered that addiction, we have to continue to learn how to fill that void with healthy strategies and habits that will help us turn life’s would-be challenges into opportunities to grow in recovery.
This isn’t an overnight process, and it takes a lot of additional practice and trial and error to get right, even after initial treatment. Sober living helps us learn these strategies by providing us with a template for success. Learning how to rely on and support others (unity), practicing practical life skills, and understanding the importance of having the right people around us (peer support) helps us learn how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade.
Understanding the three concepts
We say it all the time: no man is an island. Unity is a must in recovery, and it plays a particularly large role in helping us make the most out of situations we’re faced with post-treatment. As The Big Book says- “our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon… unity.”
So, how’s unity help us make lemonade out of lemons? Because it gives us a brother to lean on when we need help. It allows to communicate our feelings, what we’re struggling with, and what we’re worried about. Unity teaches how to hold one another up, and to turn to others when we need help, instead of just relying on ourselves. As The Big Book says, “if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us.” Unity tells us it’s okay to get and receive help in our recovery journey, and knowing where and how to get help is a fundamental part of being able to make the most of life’s lemons.
As for learning life skills and the importance of peer support, the two practically go hand in hand. Learning life skills like accountability and responsibility helps breed confidence in us, and having peers around to support us in learning these things affirms that we’re going in the right direction. Confidence and affirmation in our progress reassures us that, when the time comes, we’ll be ready to handle anything life throws at us. Knowing that we have the skills to turn life’s lemons into lemonade–even if our stubborn minds are telling us we don’t– is a fundamental part of doing it!
The Last House is a premier men’s sober living facility in West Los Angeles that gives men the skills they need to turn life’s lemons into lemonade (and be gentlemen in doing it). Call us at 1-866-677-0090 to find out how we can help you today!